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WILL or BE GOING TO

Updated: May 15, 2022

These are two expressions which are used to express the future. What is the difference,though? It seems that most students remember only one rule and that is, well, one is used for actions in the near future and the other is used for the rest. NO! NO! NO! There are more differences, but it is not as hard as you think. It really depends on the situation, the speaker and their intention. So, let's have a look at the examples of when to use these two future expressions.


WILL

  • recent decisions (you have just decided to do it, spontaneous actions)

I'll help him. ( I've just decided to help you. It could also be a promise.)

We'll move the furniture this weekend. (I've just decided that we'll do it.)

I'll buy a new computer. (I was not planning it, but I've just decided to get a new one.)

  • promises

I'll stop by as soon as I'm free.

My husband told me: 'I will do anything for you.'

  • predictions (based on our opinion, assumptions)

I think it will rain. (It is only my opinion. I do not know it for sure.)

I think our clients will be satisfied with the result.

  • threats

I will kill you!

I'll call the police!

  • offers

I'll help you wrap up the presents.

  • warnings

You will burn yourself!

  • requests

Will you hold the door, please?

  • orders

I'll have a cappuccino and a piece of chocolate cake.

  • refusals

I won't accept your terms.

  • a future fact

The sun will rise tomorrow.


!!!DO NOT USE 'WILL' IN TIME CLAUSES - that means after expressions such as when, after, before, as soon as, until, till, …

In English, present tense is used:

I'll call you when I'm back from work.

We'll stop worrying after we find a job with a good salary.



BE GOING TO

  • planned events (plans or decisions that have been already made)

I'm going to help him.

We're going to move the furniture this weekend. (This plan has already been made and I'm just stating it.)

  • intentions

I'm going to buy a new computer.

  • predictions based on evidence (some visible facts)

Look at the dark clouds! It is going to rain.

The spray can in the fire is going to explode. Can you hear the sizzling? And look, it is expanding.

Oh no! He's going to crash into the wall!



Be careful about the statement 'near future'. Both 'be going to' and 'will' can express something taking place in the near future like in this example

I think the storm will come any minute now.

(See, even 'will' can be used for the near future.)



  • be going to go - You can use the verb 'go' twice. It is not a mistake. You can also say only 'be going to' or 'be coming'

We're going to go to Italy on holiday this year.

We're going to Italy on holiday this year.


  • For a future arrangement, a plan that you have decided and organised with another person, we can also use the present continuous*

I am going to a doctor on Monday at 7.

Me and Mike are meeting on Friday evening.


You can practise it here:


If you come across a sentence in which the use of future does not make sense, contact me and we shall discuss it.




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